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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [L5r p169]

Les douze labeurs de Hercules,[1]
par Allegorie.

Plus Eloquence, & moins les forces font.
Vains argumens des Sophistes confond.
Rage, ou fureur, plus que vertu n’est forte,
Richesse, honneur, à Sapience porte,
De rapt ne vit: mais desprise avarice.
Despoille, & vinct foeminine malice.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [L5v p170] Les espritz orne, & les purge d’ordure.
Faict illicite, & les meschantz n’endure,
Fierte barbare en fin elle punit,
Contre ennemis en vertu soy unit.
Biens estrangiers en son pays apporte.
Vole en renom, & à jamais n’est morte.

Par Hercules (qui fut homme magnani-
me, & eloquent) est signifiée vertueuse elo-
quence avec sagesse, & par les douze grandz
labeurs qu’il accomplit, sont allegoricque-
ment entendues les choses cy dessus escri-


1.  Hercules was accredited with many victories over men and monsters, but eventually a list of twelve major ones was compiled. See e.g. Anthologia Graeca, 16.92. These ‘Labours’ he carried out at the behest of Eurystheus, incited by Hera (see next emblem, note 2). Alciato’s epigram follows this order: i. the Nemean lion; ii. the Hydra; iii. the Erymanthean boar; iv. the golden-antlered Arcadian stag; v. the birds of the Stymphalian Marsh; vi. the belt of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons; vii. the Augean stables; viii. the Cretan bull; ix. the mares of Diomedes; x. the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryones (see Emblem 38 [A58a038]); xi. the golden apples of the Hesperides; and xii. the three-headed watchdog Cerberus. The Labours were given various allegorical interpretations both in antiquity and later, and Hercules himself becomes a wise man and philosopher, overcoming folly and sin. See Emblem 170 CHECK ([A58a170]).

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